As many of you know I am working to finish my initial work on the Hudson River. One piece of the project is to climb to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the officially designated source of the Hudson. This is a 10-12 hour climb (if you aren’t stopping to photograph) which is rated difficult. As many of you also know, I blew out my right knee in March 2012 climbing to Boiling Lake on Dominica. I haven’t climbed since. The knee is better now and so it is time to go! Now, when I was young and ambitious or stupid, take your pick, I would have driven off to Mt Marcy and said “here I go.” Now that I am not young although perhaps still stupid, I express it differently, I decided to do a few practice climbs and see if the knee is really ready and what climbing shape I am in.
It was a good news, bad news day. I really tested the knee and it passed every test. It felt and feels great. I, however, do not. I chose to do the Butter Hill/Stillman/Bluebird Trail Loop because it starts with a challenging steep climb over very rocky terrain. You gain about 400 feet of altitude in 25 or 30 minutes of climbing. Look to right and see 9W and the parking lot
look to your left and see the Hudson and Crows Nest Mountain.
After a bit more steepness you are at the top of Butter Hill. There are some very nice views of the Hudson from here but it was a truly hazy day so I will wait for Storm King. However, I was not alone!
Cicadas were everywhere. So far the climb had been “easy”. Steep and rugged but things were okay. From here there would be a lot of switchbacks and ups and downs for quite some time, more a hike than a climb.
This cairn marks the meeting of two trails. I went to the right and up.
You come to some flat rocks near the summit of Storm King. Best views of the river this day.
Pollopel Island with the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle
It was really hazy today
So while I am shooting this I get a text message from Abigail. Our internet isn’t working. What should she do?. Almost at the same time I hear a loud rumble of thunder and turn around to see this.
Deciding discretion is the better part of valor I start down off the ledge immediately and just made it under some trees when the cloudburst well burst. Wiped out the poncho, put it on, covered the gear, and discussed New York City internet via text with Abigail for the 1o minute duration of the rain.
After it finished I made it to the summit of Storm King. The storm had moved north to bother Newburgh.
A building over a shaft leading down to the Catskill Aqueduct which runs approximately 1100 feet under the river. Notice the train behind.
Looking down river
Before the trail descends into a forest you pass the junction of the By Pass Trail. The Stillman then descends into forest which I am sure is usually quite nice but because of the rain, it was sticky, the bugs were having a field day and the trees kept raining. Still and all, 3 hours into the hike (it would have been about 2:15 except for the photography) things were going well. Then I crossed over to the Bluebird Trail. This was the second steep ascent. Not as steep, not as rocky but significantly longer and 70% of the way through the hike. I thought I was going to die. It was hot, (did I mention it was 92 today?), humid and I couldn’t go more than 20 or 30 yards without having to stop and catch my breath. Apparently, you can’t go 15 months without climbing and get it all back at once. Who knew? Finally the torment stop and I was back on the Stillman Trail. Came again to Butter Hill.
and my trail map/guide said just follow Stillman out and back to your car in the lot. THis seemed a little strange to me as I had climbed the Butter Hill Trail to get to this point but hey, they are the experts. I came out about a 1/2 mile below the parking lot and had to walk up to the lot on 9W. Kids, don’t try that at home. These drivers are nuts.
So, clearly, a good day. Lots of good things and I will definitely be doing more practice runs before I hit Mt Marcy.